What is supervision?

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Supervision is the formal arrangement that enables a speech and language therapist (SLT) to discuss their work regularly with someone who is experienced and qualified. Supervision is an essential component of a good quality speech and language therapy service that is able to identify and manage risk. This is the case for all SLTs, including those practising independently or employed in other contexts.

There are a wide variety of terms applied to the activity of supervision in health and social care and the terms used may overlap or vary depending on your context. RCSLT uses the terms ‘managerial supervision’ and ‘professional supervision’ to make a distinction between two different types of supervision and differentiate these from professional support:

  1. Managerial supervision: provides an opportunity for the SLT to discuss clinical, service-related and wider professional issues. It is carried out by a supervisor with authority and accountability for the supervisee – usually their line manager. This person may or may not have a speech and language therapy background.
  2. Professional supervision: provides an opportunity for the SLT to discuss clinical and other professional issues in a non-judgmental environment, and is usually provided by another speech and language therapist without line management responsibility. This may also be referred to as ‘clinical’, ‘personal’ or ‘practice’ supervision.
  3. Professional support: is the over-arching, umbrella term used to refer to a wide range of learning opportunities – it is typically more ad hoc and informal than supervision.

*RCSLT recommends both types of supervision and professional support for all speech and language therapists.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for SLTs. Registration is a legal requirement for all practising SLTs, who must adhere to the HCPC standards, including a requirement to:

  • “understand the importance of participation in training, supervision and mentoring” in order to be able to practice as an autonomous professional (HCPC, 2013, p.8).
  • “keep your knowledge and skills up to date and relevant to your scope of practice through continuing professional development” (HCPC, 2016, p. 7)

View our document Supervision: Information for Employers of Speech and language therapists.